NASA's Mars Rover Captures An Eerie Tomb-Like Doorway On The Red Planet

mars doorway
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover captured a photo earlier this month that looks like a hidden entrance to an underground alien base. The grainy black and white image was captured on May 7th by the rover's Mastcam.

The thought of a secret Martian base beneath the surface of the red planet has been the fodder for many a childhood fantasy. As the hero, the kid of course, lands on the surface of Mars, and finds a doorway that leads to the secret underground lair where the Martians are planning to take over the Earth. Of course, this is not that kind of doorway, but the eerie image does make for a very interesting photo.

In an interview with Gizmodo, Ashwin Vasavada, a project scientist in the Mars Science Laboratory, stated, "It's just the space between two fractures in a rock. We've been traversing through an area that has formed from ancient sand dunes." He added that these sand dunes were cemented together over a period of time, an in turn created the sandstone outcrops the rover is passing by. Not quite the explanation an imaginative nine year old would want.

rover mastcam
Image Courtesy of NASA

The fracture may appear in the photo to be large enough for an average size human to walk through, but Vasavada says it is actually only a foot tall. As these sand dunes were compacted together, they were buried and unburied over a period of time as the sands shifted on the red planet. While undergoing this process, the sandstone was under varying pressures, which caused it to buckle and fracture in numerous places.

"The fractures we see in this area are generally vertical," Vasavada remarked. He explained that the doorway in the image more than likely formed in one of two ways. "I think what we have here [is] either two vertical fractures, where the middle piece has been removed, or one vertical fracture, and the blocks have moved apart a little bit," he concluded.

While Vasavada's explanation is based in reality, we can still gaze upon the image with our nine year old minds and imagine readying ourselves to stop the impending alien invasion.

Top Image Courtesy of NASA